RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statewide stay-at-home order during a Friday afternoon briefing in an additional effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stay-at-home order will go into effect at 5 p.m. Monday. The order will stay in effect until April 29.
"To continue our aggressive battle to slow the spread of COVID-19, today, I have signed a stay-at-home order for the entire state of North Carolina. Enforcement begins at 5 p.m. on Monday, but we urge you to start as soon as possible," Cooper said.
The order calls for all North Carolina citizens to reduce their travel, staying home as much as possible. It does not ban essential business or make it illegal for citizens to be outside their homes to get fresh air.
Violating the stay-at-home order is a class two misdemeanor, but it is up to local law enforcement and district attorneys to determine how to enforce the order.
"We hope and believe that people will abide by this order because of the seriousness of it and the fact that this virus is being transferred so easily from one person to another," Cooper said.
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis issued the following statement showing bipartisan support for Gov. Cooper's stay-at-home order:
"We are all in this together, and in order to protect the health of North Carolinians and get through this crisis as quickly as possible, we must all do our part to contain community spread over the next several weeks. I've had discussions with Governor Cooper about the challenge of protecting both the physical and economic health of the state, and the Governor made the difficult, but correct decision to issue a statewide stay-at-home order."
Democratic Congressman David Price also said he "fully supported what he called Cooper's "difficult decision."
"We are facing a deadly pandemic which requires fact-based, thoughtful, and empathetic leadership that prioritizes the health and safety of every member of our community," Price said in a statement. "This is not a time for indecisiveness or unchecked individualism, but collective strength, kindness, and support."
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the stay-at-home order was necessary to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
"We do not have the luxury of time. We must act quickly based on what we do know to slow the spread of the virus," Cohen said.
Cohen went on to emphasize that citizens may still leave their homes for essential business or to get some fresh air. However, when outside everybody is urged to stay at least 6-feet away from others.
"Our best weapon is social distancing...our actions--your actions can save lives," Cohen said.
The order permits the following businesses to remain open:
- Restaurants that provide take-out, drive-thru, or delivery
- Grocery stores
- ABC stores and beer and wine stores
- Doctors and other healthcare providers
- Hardware stores
- Post offices
- Office supply stores
- Gas stations and convenience stores
- Veterinarians and pet supply stores
- Hotels, airlines, buses, taxis, and rideshare services
- Places of worship
- Child care providers (that are following the required NCDHHS procedures)
Cooper had previously given an order that shuttered K-12 schools through mid-May, banned mass gatherings of more than 50 people and told restaurants to stop dine-in service.
Also Friday, North Carolina health officials reported another death related to the novel coronavirus, as more local governments prepared to clamp down further on residents' movements.
The death of a Johnston County resident on Thursday brings the number of deaths reported by the state Department of Health and Human Services to three, all men. The patient, who was in his mid-60s, had underlying medical conditions, Johnston County said in a news release.
Cabarrus and Harnett county residents also have died. A fourth person from Virginia who died of COVID-19 complications in North Carolina is not in the state's official count.
DHHS officially reported 763 positive COVID-19 cases statewide as of Friday morning.
More than 200 of the cases are in Mecklenburg County and more than 100 in Wake County. More than 75 people are hospitalized statewide, according to the department.
Wake County's 1.1 million residents will be under a stay-at-home order starting late Friday afternoon through mid-April in an attempt to blunt the virus' spread, particularly to higher-risk residents. Nearby Orange County also begins an order Friday.
Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, began a similar order Thursday. Guilford, Buncombe and Gaston counties also have issued the directives, as have the cities of Winston-Salem and Durham.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.